Islamabad: While the world continues to raise a toast to contemporary Pakistani authors, the latest author to enter the literary marathon is a genius of sorts who translates Urdu tomes and works on his own tales of fiction with equal ease.
Musharraf Ali Farooqi caught everyone's attention with translations of Urdu classics "The Adventures of Amir Hamza" and the first book of a projected 24-volume magical fantasy epic, "Hoshruba".
His first novel, "The Story of a Widow", was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2010 and his children's books "The Cobbler's Holiday Or Why Ants Don't Wear Shoes" and "The Amazing Moustaches of Mocchhander the Iron Man and Other Stories" too were received well.
What sets Farooqi apart from other writers is that he is not guilty of portraying Pakistan as a violence-ridden country, a portrayal most publishers love and most writers thrive on.
Farooqi's latest work, "Between Clay and Dust" the story of wrestler Ustad Ramzi and courtesan Gohar Jan, which releases this week is no exception.
"'Between Clay and Dust' is a story of two artists who are approaching the end of their careers in courtly arts and must come to terms with the meaning of their lives as their worlds disintegrate in the wake of India's Partition," Farooqi said.
"Stripped of their resources and their old powers, they must face their greatest challenge yet. It is an exploration of love, honour, redemption and the strength that great souls find to go on when everything is lost."
Farooqi will soon embark on his maiden visit to India, which is where his parents come from, to release his novel published by Aleph Book Company.
"My writing does not flow from the immediacy of my environment, and in this matter geographical spaces and the boundaries of nation states hold no meaning for me.
"It is true that if I write a social drama based in Karachi while living in Karachi, I'd have a better opportunity to weave my daily observations into the story than if I were writing it in Toronto," he said.
"But if the focus is on the inner lives of individuals, which I have tried to attempt in novels like 'The Story of a Widow' and 'Between Clay and Dust', the surroundings have at best a limited role," said Farooqi, who divides his time between Toronto, New York and Karachi.
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